13 Feb 2006

Tuvalu leader says outstanding wages for former Nauru workers to be paid out soon

8:43 pm on 13 February 2006

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Maatia Toafa, says thousands of dollars in back wages and compensation for former Tuvaluan workers on Nauru will go into their bank accounts shortly.

Taiwan has provided around three and a half million US dollars to pay the wages and expenses of hundreds of I-Kiribati and Tuvaluans, mostly former employees of the Nauru Government's phosphate comapny.

Earlier this month Taiwan paid around half the funds directly to the Governments of Kiribati and Tuvalu, but Mr Toafa says all that money will go to the workers.

"Government won't tax or do anything about it, one hundred percent is their own. Well, it's their sweat, why should government take a cent of these people's money? I don't see any reason why. All government did was negotiate for donors' assistance and I'm glad that we have been through that now."

Mr Toafa says now they are working to find donor support for shipping to bring the workers and their belongings home.